Swisscursion !!

Believe it or not every Indian intends to visit Switzerland at least once in a life time. Any first timer making a casual visit to Europe would be recipient of comments such as Europe jake tune Swiss Nahi dekha ! Kya c**** hain tu??  Meaning none could be more dumb than you if you haven’t visited Swiss during an Europe visit !! I have met people spending a million or more bucks (INR) to visit their dreamland.

No wonder when one sees, Hindied instructions at many tourist locations there !! The reason behind such a fanaticism traces back to romantic Bollywood movies from 1980s. The love nurtured then is fulfilled at retirement age !! 

I am no different from my fellow brothers and sisters… After having carried this burden for so many years, I finally decided to pull the monkey off my neck and hence the visit to Swiss this month. 

However forget about  all I said above, the purpose of this blog is to share some experiences and research I had over the month to make my a weeks visit as fun-filled as possible. Since I visited Interlaken, the following text will be referring to the excursion in and around the same.

First things first

It is very important to determine the number of days to visit. The reason I say this is because there is so much to see and so many things to do, it becomes quite difficult to determine that magic number.  

The most important factor from my point of view would be the Budget. Swiss guys have made it sure that they earn maximum out of each visitor there. Hence fix your budget and then embark on the planning for your journey.

The second important thing is how are you going to travel ? By a car or by public transport ? Swiss transport system provides multiple kinds of (confusing) passes to assist hassle free and economical travel.  One thing you need to remember while doing the calculations is that, at some point in time you need to leave your vehicle behind use one of those Mountain trains, Cable cars, Ships, or funicular trains…! As a result it becomes quit important if you are willing to travel by car to the farthest point possible and then use other means of transport or use the public transport in entirety. You should actually sit down with calculator and measure bucks per mile plus parking plus remaining public transport vs Swiss passes plus remaining public transport.  Although you can obtain this information very easily for the sake of completeness I paste the same here as well. Please note, that all prices and other information is pertaining to current month.

Swiss Pass

This popular Rail Pass for Switzerland gives you unlimited access on the network of Swiss Travel System. The Swiss Pass is sold for 4, 8, 15 or 22 days or one month and allows a free entrance to over 400 museums and exhibitions.

Swiss Flexi Pass

With the Swiss Flexi Pass, you can freely choose your travelling days. The Swiss Flexi Pass gives you access on the Swiss Travel System network for 3, 4, 5 or 6 non-consecutive days within a month.

Swiss Transfer Ticket

This transfer ticket is valid from the Swiss border or from a Swiss airport to your final destination and back. The Swiss Transfer Ticket is probably the best deal, if you spend your holidays in one location.

Swiss Card

With the Swiss Card you get the same as with the Swiss Transfer Ticket plus unlimited tickets at half price. The Swiss Card is valid for one month and ideal for holidays in one specific region.

Source: Swiss Pass Information

The third most important thing to realize is that, Swiss travel system makes sure that most of the times, you cannot cover more than one place on your check-list. One can attribute that to the difficult terrain but irrespective of the journey time the frequency of trains/buses etc. is at half an hour or one hour. Hence it becomes quite challenging to cover more than one place in a day! It is specially important for those travelling with babies or elderly people. Hence don’t try to rush around, relax and enjoy your vacation with an activity per day !!

The fourth important thing to remember is that, in the wake of enthusiasm don’t plan for too many mountain tops – especially on consecutive days. The first day you are full of energy and take too many photos only to get disillusioned in the next few days. Mix and match your attractions such that they always keep you interested.

Also, be flexible. Especially successful visits to mountain tops depend a lot on the weather – which keeps changing quite frequently. Hence one cannot predict until the last day. Be ready to move the plans around such that you make most out of those sunny hours.

Lastly, try to plan as early as possible. This become expensive and getting a decent accommodation is then quite difficult. Hence be an early bird.

Intention of the Blog

Having said that, a typical question after your recent vacation is, “So what did you do there?” Or “How was your vacation?”, “Where did you stay?”  “Can you please share details about… “. To address all those queries further in this blog, I will try to summarize my vacation plan as a guideline to all potential visitors. All those interested can take excerpts out of it… No copyrights !! ;) Please note all those party kind of people – interested in night life – will be disappointed hence I warn not to read further.

For your information the details of my journey were:

1. Place: Interlaken

2. Days: 6

3. Hotel: Backpackers Villa

4. Pass: Swiss pass for 4 days from 3rd till 6th day

5. Travel: directly to Interlaken.

For the last point if your already have Swiss pass, valid from the same day of your entry into Swiss, then you can save some money by leaving your fast train at the border and picking up local transport.

As I did over 6 days……

Day 1

Reach Interlaken, do check in, relax and go around the city and get acquainted with things around.

We stayed at Backpackers Villa at Interlaken. It is one of the very tourist friendly budget accommodation I have ever been to. For those budget seekers this one you shouldn’t miss. Don’t get misled by name as though its Backpackers they have got Family Rooms (with / without balcony), apart for Dorms etc. It has got 2 kitchens,

Kitchen

a big dinning area

Kitchen tables1 Kitchen tables2

and a nice garden and a washing area.

Garden washing area

Breakfast is included they can arrange for different kinds of excursions.

Day 2

I wanted to add certain thrill to my vacation. Visiting places and taking photographs is one part however if one has to do the same over few days that’s perfect receipe to get bored. Hence my suggestion would be in case of long vacation and deep pockets, spice up your journey with some thrill. There are a lot of activities attracting tourists the entire day. For ex. The whole day para gliders kept descending in front of our hotel park. One can go for Para-gliding! rafting! kayaking! Skiing (of course). 

I decided to go for Hang-gliding. Though the name is quite similar and confusing with para-gliding, in para-gliding one descends quietly like sitting on a chair car, however if you want to have more fun at 180 degrees, go for hang-gliding. Further differences can be easily Googled!  Also note that it is not mandatory do these activities in Swiss as they might be pretty costly as compared to similar deals in Austria or Germany. Be wise ! 

I shall share the link where I booked the my hang-gliding activity. We jumped from Beatenberg mountain top about 1250 meters height. It is done in tandem with trainer so don’t worry about safety. One has to run a few steps upto the cliff before jumping.  Even if you don’t run after a couple of steps owing to the unavoidable anxiety, don’t worry, your trainer is well aware of such situations and will carry you off the mountain.  The flight lasts for about 10-15 minutes. Enjoy the lake views, mountains and city below. After having spent this much do not hesitate to spend a few more bucks on photos/videos. It’s a life time experience. 

Tip: don’t forget to put a motion sickness tablet in the pocket in case you feel uneasy after the flight. Else enjoy Swiss beer !!

Day 3

Any mountain top. We decided to visit Schilthorn. No particular reason, but the idea was to start with a mountain which has exciting train journey showing landscapes followed by various cable cars taking you over steep and frightening cliffs to the top.  It’s a James Bond mountain. There is revolving restaurant at the top where you can enjoy a meal and get some photos with the yester-years James Bond. Actually the place including the restaurant was sponsored by the production house for the movie only later being turned into a tourist attraction.

Schilthorn

Here is the link and the timetable you can plan from Interlaken Ost. Train runs every half an hour and overall journey including all kinds of travel takes about 45 minutes to reach to the top. The train goes until a certain point which is Lauterbrunnen after that you need to get into Bus to Stechelberg before boarding cable car for there. One tip, if possible buy tickets at the Ost station to avoid queuing the base stations of cable cars.  You can easily get stuck with one of those large tourist groups.

Timetable aerial cableway Schilthorn
Stechelberg – Gimmelwald – Mürren – Birg – Schilthorn

Courses every 30 minutes from Stechelberg, from 7.25 to 16.25 h.
Ascents from Stechelberg every hour xx.25 and xx.55 h.
Descent from Schilthorn every hour xx.03 and xx.33 h. Last ride 18.03 h.
Timetable funicular Allmendhubel
Mürren – Allmendhubel

9.00 to 17.00 h, courses every 20 minutes

Fahrplan_2014_1

Tip: One thing which we could not make was to visit Trümmelbachfälle. These are the closest glacier falls one can get to and are supposed to be really beautiful. As I said, when in bus before Stechelberg the bus stops at Trümmelbachfälle stop.

If you are going to Trümmelbach Falls by train, go via Interlaken (SBB/BLS/Brünigbahn) toward Lauterbrunnen (BOB). A bus will take you from there to the Trümmelbach Falls bus stop.

The Trümmelbach Glacier Waterfalls are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from the beginning of April to the beginning of November and from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in July and August.

All the Trümmelbach Falls except the lowest were invisible to human eyes, and unapprochable, from the last Ice Age about 15’000 years ago until they were first rendered accessible in 1877. They were hidden inside the mountain, which is why the name «Trümmelbach» does not convey a visual impression, as is the rule with waterfalls, but an acoustic one. «Trümmelbach» comes from «Trommelbach» meaning a stream that sounds like a drum.
In 1877 – 1886 the lowermost falls were rendered accessible by flights of steps and bridges. The tunnel lift, which from the technical point of view is a funicular with a counterweight, was constructed in 1913, at the same time as the access to the 3 upper falls. The flight of steps at the top of the tunnel, the gallery and lookouts were built in 1986.
The lower part of the gorge was connected to the upper half during the winter of 1990. From the interior of the mountain, rugged rock formations and 3 additional falls became visible.

Trummelbachfalle

Day 4

A visit to Interlaken cannot be complete without visiting the TopOfEurope – Jungfraujoch. It is although debatable if that’s the real top, nevertheless they market it so.  It is one of the longest and the costliest journeys where one has to change as many as 4 different trains from Ost. It takes around 2 and half hours from Ost but is quite beautiful. You have to change at strategic ( read panoramic) locations allowing to take sufficient photos. You will never put your camera down. Brace yourself for freezing subzero temperatures at the top, Although you can stay within enclosed temperature controlled area, but more fun is outside. One can visit Glacier, do some sport activities, go up the observatory, visit Ice palace and enjoy the food at an Indian restaurant “Bollywood”. 

The top is really at an altitude of 12000 feet or 3500 meters approximately. Hence one may feel difficulty in breathing , dizziness or committing sensation. Hence be prepared !! People with some acute diseases specially have to take care. Although there is no eating area for self food, one can carry to save some costs as there is a eating area where you can sit down. They have actually put a board there saying that it’s not a picnic area !! ;)

There are two ways to go up via Lauterbrunnen and via Grindewald. Hence add novelty by going up on way and descending the other way. As usual buy tickets before hand to save time and most importantly go only during perfect sunny weather for a breathtaking experience.

Arriving by rail
Interlaken Ost
From Basel you travel directly to Interlaken Ost with Intercity trains. From Zurich and Geneva, you have to change in Bern. Trains run every 30 minutes.
Lauterbrunnen/Grindelwald
At Interlaken Ost you change to the regional train for Lauterbrunnen/Grindelwald. Please note the destination on the carriages.
Kleine Scheidegg
In Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald you change to the Wengernalp Railway for Kleine Scheidegg.
Jungfraujoch
At Kleine Scheidegg you change to the Jungfrau Railway, which takes you to the Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe in about an hour.

Jungfraujoch – Ost via Grindelwald

Jungfraujoch – Ost via Wengen

Jungfraujoch_Timetable_2013_2014

Ost – Jungfraujoch via Grindelwald

Ost – Jungfraujoch via Wengen

The whole journey time and activity saps your energy so don’t plan anything else the last train for the top runs around 17:45 hence by the time you reach base it’s almost 8 pm. 

Tip: you can visit a beautiful location Grindewald-first for some fun activities only if you have time.

Day 5 

Panorama trains: one easy way to explore Swiss hinterland is via these trains. There are almost 4 panoramic routes going criss-cross across the country. Out of those 3 start from Luzerne and one the GoldenPass goes via Interlaken to down south border. The trains are specially equipped for the panoramic views plus you can get yourselves served on board with delicious food. I would strongly recommend one of these trains (even if one has got a car) to enjoy the sheer beauty at the countryside. Also you are away from busy tourist areas allows you to relax and explore something different.

We used GoldenPass from Interlaken Ost down south. The first leg until Zweisimmen is via local transport after that you can board train from there to enjoy a journey for another 2 hours until the last town Montreux. 

Train_GoldenPass_Line_2014-2

Train_du_Chocolat_2014

Interlaken_ostBroc_fabrique

Interlaken_ostBroc_fabrique without Panoromic

Tip: One the way could change train at Montbovon to Broc-Fabrique and visit the small town together Chocolate and cheese factory. The whole would around 3 hours from Montbovon.

Day 6

A visit would not have been complete if I did not mention the lake ride. Interlaken is town situated between two lakes Thunersee on east and Brienzersee on the west. Hence there are multiple ways one can plan the lake ride.

 While going to or from Interlaken one get on board the ship leaving train for ex. at Thun if coming from/ going to Germany.

I had done that earlier. However this time we boarded GoldenPass to Luzerne and got down at Brienz only to come by ship to Interlaken. The whole activity took only 3 hours. 

fahrplan-2seen-sommer-14

fahrplan-brienz-sommer-14

fahrplan-thun-sommer-14

 

Thun-Brienz

A view of the lake as seen from the boat…

LakeView

This left us with some time to visit Interlaken’s own mountain HarderKulm about 1000 meter high but extended platform at the top and car on the way to top gives breath-taking views of the city with two lakes around. It takes around 5 minutes from Interlaken Ost station to the harder base station and from there exactly 8 minutes to the top.

Harder Klum Thunersee IMG_1702

Lastly in order to obey my little one we took a 45 minutes train journey through the “baby train” as my little one calls it. It’s literally a small train giving a vintage look and some commentary taking around the city for. Quarter of an hour. 

We ended the last day with horse ride again to obey the little one. But the person charged exorbitant 50 Swiss Franks per person, putting a generous smile that little one can ride for free !!! ;-/

Parting Note

Thanks for being patient with me until here. Since you are at the end one more tip.

WishList

Though I had plans to visit Pilatus or Titlis I couldn’t make it only to realize that they can be better visited by staying at Luzerne avoiding a 2 hour journey. Those are another mountains with lots of attractions and action items. After all there has to be a reason to visit another time – so let me cover that then !! :-)

Another interesting activity could be to take a bicycle, electric bike ride in and around the city. On a beautiful sunny day, it would be worth to explore yourselves.

On a parting note I would keep on updating/improving things as I remember or get feedbacks. Hence please do provide your valuable feedback to keep me motivated doing the same.

How to make your iPhone faster

sachindamle:

Try it …

Originally posted on Gigaom:

Is your iPhone(s aapl) running slower than it used to? While iPhones seem to hold up fairly well over the length of a standard two-year contract (at least in my experience), there are plenty of factors that can contribute to some slight or significant slowdown. So if you’re looking to make your iPhone faster, these tips should help bring it back to feeling brand new.

What’s taking up the most space?

A bloated phone is a slower phone, so you want to make sure your iPhone has a little room to breathe. But before you do anything drastic, you should get a sense of what’s actually taking up the most space.

Luckily, checking out your iPhone’s usage is a very simple process. Simply tap on Settings > General > Usage. (Note that it might take a while for this list to populate, especially if your phone is really loaded up.)

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The irrational rationality behind Facebook’s $16 billion acquisition of WhatsApp

sachindamle:

Yet another inflated deal !!

Originally posted on Gigaom:

Another day and another acquisition — and another one that is jaw dropping and seemingly insane.

Less than a week after Japan’s Rakuten acquired Viber for $900 million, Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced that he is buying WhatsApp for a whopping $16 billion in cash and stock. Add another $3 billion for WhatsApp employees may get over next few years in restricted stock, and this becomes a $19 billion company.

When I think about the deal, it actually makes what investor Paul Kedrosky calls “ridiculously rational” sense. It keeps WhatsApp out of the hands of Google and most importantly takes out an aggressive competitor for “attention” from the market.

Facebook is going to end up competing with apps like Line and WeChat in many markets for the consumer’s mobile minutes and WhatsApp gives the Menlo Park based company a strong competitive weapon. While potential monetization remains…

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The quality of your mobile connection could soon be linked to your phone bill.

sachindamle:

Naive idea but still biased. I feel someone paying whatever amount as a monthly bill he/she is entitled to the same quality of data !!

Originally posted on Gigaom:

Imagine this scenario: You’re walking along having a video chat on your mobile phone with a friend, and you stumble into a dead zone in the network — one of those sketchy regions in between cells where speeds suffer and connections are lost. Normally, you’d be booted off your video call as the network strained to deliver the necessary bandwidth, but suddenly a funny thing happens.

In a split second, the network has looked up your billing records and determined that due to the $250 family plan and data bundle you pay each month, you are a high-value customer your carrier wants to keep happy. Then, before your video call has a chance to freeze, the nearest tower boosts its transmission power expanding the circumference of its cell. Instead of being at the edge of the cell, you find yourself closer to its center where the bandwidth is higher and…

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We, the people !!

Microsoft has been in the news lately and so is the Indian diaspora bustling with joy. Indeed it might be a proud moment to cherish but there is also a need for the introspection.

All social media since yesterday was flowing with news over Satya Nadella’s appointment. In response I had an uncomfortable feeling. But after reading this I could not resist myself putting up my thoughts.

I agree though the above article may sound a bit pessimistic but I don’t deny shortcomings of our system. Yesterday I had similar thoughts and really wanted to post in response to the over the board irrational exuberance shown via various posts and messages inviting likes. It is not the case that there is no exodus from other countries, and for that matter Germans and Jews have made it really big in America. But these people don’t just bask in the glory of the “supposed” to be their people. Instead they have earned the doers tag and made their respective nations count on the world stage. We have a habit of glorifying things so be it culture, values or our ancient history or something else.

Nothing but inability to match previous achievements takes away your past glory!

To sum up I would say that,
It is the same person who spits on Indian streets, when flown outside under favourable conditions puts the chocolate wrapper in his pocket until he finds a dustbin to throw the same !!

We, the people !!

poster

AAP, Politics and Romance !

Image

I am back with another write-up on Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Somehow the topic itself is so hot that I cannot avoid it. I thought of putting my viewpoint as a status message on my Facebook or LinkedIn accounts – but then it looked like the text is getting bloated than expected. And people neither like nor read large status message ( I myself loathe that!).

Anyways, it doesn’t require any mention that AAP has been in news all the time these days. Especially when LokSabha elections on the doorstep every one is keenly observing AAP’s next moves. Meanwhile there has been a massive support across the country with more 1000 new memberships each day. The support is really enormous and Maharashtra (another populous and developed state in India) is the next battlefield.

However it does not require much intelligence to find the reasons behind massive support that AAP has garnered within no time. It played the trump card of addressing the commonest (apology for the weird term, but was necessary to convey the thought in a single word) concerns:

  1. Corruption
  2. Water Problem
  3. Electricity
  4. etc…

These kind problems are faced by the typical Indian diaspora irrespective of Caste, Ethnicity, Religion or Faith. Hence the once the party was independent of sectarian issues, it could get the mandate across all who shared the similar feelings.

Hence until now their tryst with Politics was Romanticized and nurtured fruitful results. However the challenge comes when once has to deal with broader issues and put forth a strong perspective on specific things. This could very well address to a certain section of society whilst leaving others dis-contended. I can very well point such issues right away:

  • Reservation 
  • A benign problem where one can find equal supporters and dis-tractors
  • Border Disputes 
    • China, Bangladesh and Pakistan have always been intrusive
  • Populist measures
    •  As it is said “nothing can be given for FREE in this world“.
  • Important decision such as allowing Multibrand retail entry in India 
  • Associated with religious sentiments
    • This has been an issue since per-independence era which resurfaces every now and then
  • Coalition politics
    •  No party has successfully formed a single party Govt since Indira Gandhi era.
  • Minority problems
    •  All political parties try to appease minorities to garner their precious votes and in turn dole out unrealistic schemes
  • International Issues
    • India if wants to play a major role in World dynamics then it has to make its presence and stance felt
  • Scams
    •  India has been a centre of scams with number increasing by a factor of 10
  • Economy
    • Since last 2 years the ever enthusiastic economy is in a complete turmoil and inflation and interest rates are rocketing. Taming the same requires skill and know how without affecting the growth factor.
  • etc..
  • AAP’s report card mainly depends on how do they address  these problems. To become politically viable on National Front demands ability to muscle such issues with wit and equitable sensitivity without hurting the popular sentiments and keeping things together (coalition politics).

    I can hardly doubt AAP’s ability to deliver things, as they have always executed things which were unexpected and nothing seems to be impossible. But at the same time I would like to put forth a caveat that theories apart, life is not a fairy tale ! The gap between the politics of protest that has brought the party into prominence and the complex business of running a government which calls for the capacity to balance the specific interests with the general, the short term concerns with those that are likely to endure in the longer run will be a challenge. You always have your share of ups and downs and the one who emerges victorious through all circumstances is called the

    Survival of the Fittest!

    Continue reading

    Preventing Google+ users from getting access to your Gmail ID

    Couple of days all websites started buzzing with the news at Gmail Plans to Allow Google Plus Users to Send Anyone an Email.

    This can be seen as another attempt by Google to push itself actively into the Social Networking space. Initially it integrated Google Plus with Picassa (read rather forcefully) and YouTube now with Gmail. It needs to compete against the likes of Facebook and Twitter to gain  a greater share in the global advertising pie.

    As a result there has been a bit of uproar and insecure feeling following that. So some research and walking through Gmail settings lead me to the following wherein one can disable the integration (by not allowing Google Plus users to see you GmaiID).

    Also Google silently added the help page  to manage Google plus connections.

    I found that rather useful hence would like share the same with you all…. if you want to turn of the same.

    Here are the instructions,,

    1. Open Gmail.
    2. Click the gear in the top right.
    3. Select Settings.
    4. Scroll down to the Email via Google+ section (stay in the “General” tab).
    5. Click the drop-down menu and choose Anyone on Google+, Extended circles, Circles or No one.
    6. Click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.

    Untitled